Dangers of E.Coli in waterways

Shenandoah River
Shenandoah River(WHSV)
Published: May. 25, 2023 at 12:13 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - According the Charlottesville.gov, elevated levels of E.Coli have been detected in Meade Creek in Charlottesville.

E.Coli is an indicator of other potentially hazardous pathogens, according to Karen Andersen with Friends of the Shenandoah River.

Andersen said as E.Coli levels increase, so does the presence of these pathogens. They may cause pink eye, stomach issues, and more severely organ distress, kidney failure and even in extreme cases death.

A common misconception is that if water is clear than it must be okay but according to Andersen that is not always teh case.

Sometimes you are unable to tell by looking at the water if it has E.Coli but sometimes the smell can be a sign Andersen said.

Andersen said the Friends of the Shenandoah River is starting their Summer E.Coli testing program next week where they collect samples, perform tests and make their data available to the public on their website, Facebook page, and Instagram account..

”We collect the sample, then we set them up using colilert we seal them then they get incubated for a period of time. This method allows the incubation to be 18 to 22 hours, so we can a quick turn around to let the public know the results.” said Andersen.

Andersen said if you have any open wounds it is recommended that you don’t get into a body of water and if you do to wash them thoroughly. If you get cut while you are in the river to clean it out and watch out for a possible infection.

If you are concerned, you may have swum in a body of water with high E.Coli levels.

“It is recommended and suggested that you take a shower. Make sure wash your hands or use disinfected before you eat something.” said Andersen

Andersen said that even people are sources of E.Coli.

“We are sources of E.Coli, our pets are sources of E.Coli we should probably clean up after our pet when walking. Wildlife: deers, foxes, raccoons, our livestock are a source of E.Coli.” said Andersen.